Top 16 profiles: Dusko Savanovic

Jan 03, 2012 by Print
An All-Euroleague Second Team selection last season, Dusko Savanovic is in his first year with Anadolu Efes and looks ready to lead his team all the way to the Final Four. Surrounded by reliable centers Stanko Barac, Ermal Kuqo and Esteban Batista, Savanovic is the only pure power forward on the Efes roster, which says plenty about his importance in the team. Savanovic led Valencia Basket to the Playoffs last season - and with the Final Four taking place at Sinan Erden Arena, he hopes to take Efes at least one step higher.

Savanovic is the complete package at power forward. He boasts smooth post skills highlighted by a very effective turnaround jumper, as well as a deadly three-point shot. He can drive to the basket from the high post, stop to take the mid-range shot and drive his defenders crazy with his combination of size, ball-handling and body control. With a year of Euroleague experience under his belt, Savanovic knows all about the Top 16 and how to do well in big games.

Born in Belgrade, Savanovic grew up in the youth department of FMP and became that club’s first superstar in the mid-2000s. Unics bought his rights in the summer of 2006 and he helped his new team reach the ULEB Cup semifinals in 2007 and the Final Eight in 2008. Savanovic moved on to Cajasol, where after a slow first year, he explodeded in the 2009-10 season. He averaged 14.7 points in 36 Spanish League games and led Cajasol to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Valencia moved fast in the off-season market and Savanovic became its silent leader, as the team marched to the Euroleague Playoffs and was only stopped one win away from the Final Four. Savanovic now hopes to keep winning with Efes at every level.

With a new rotation in the last three regular season games, Savanovic started to see extended playing time. With Tarence Kinsey back in its lineup, having a talented '4' able to play away from the rim offers him, Sinan Guler and Sasha Vujacic more chances to slash to the hole, which makes Efes's offense more unpredictable. Savanovic is shooting better than ever (15-of-36, 41.7%) from three-point range and is averaging 2 offensive rebounds per night, showing that he has worked hard to improve and add more weapons to his arsenal on offense. Savanovic already has two double-doubles this season, which is one more than in 21 Euroleague games with Valencia last season.

Savanovic needed an adjustment period and his late arrival to Efes caused him to struggle early in the season. He averaged 6.8 points and 3 rebounds in his first four Euroleague games, but his numbers are much better - 13.2 points, 5.7 rebounds - from that moment. Efes has a lot of talented, experienced players and that is always a plus when you play against the best teams in the continent, but none looks more important than Savanovic, whose high basketball IQ, determination and clutch performances will be critical for the Turkish powerhouse in its fight to survive the Top 16.